Wednesday 27 June 2018, 08:19

Danes promise new style for knockout phase

  • ​Denmark extended unbeaten run to 18 games

  • Their cautious style against France may change in the knockout stage

  • Hareide and Co. don’t mind being underdogs

By Svend Frandsen with Denmark

Danish coach Age Hareide indicated after the goalless draw against France, which guaranteed the Danes’ progression to the knockout phase, that they will adopt a more open, entertaining and attacking style of football against Croatia.

With Peru 2-0 up in the other match in the group, the Danes could perhaps have rested on their laurels in the latter stages of the game, but Hareide was keen to extend their 17-game unbeaten record, and the defence remained as secure as Fort Knox to allow Les Bleus no clear-cut opportunities.

No constraints

“I’m sure the fact we now go into a stage of the tournament where it’s cup ties will make it more free, and not so constrained," said Hareide after the match against the French. "There’s absolutely everything to play for now, and everything needs to be ‘used up’ during the 90 minutes, and not over three matches."

At Tottenham, Christian Eriksen is used to seeing a lot of the ball: against France he was left to chase the French in their stylish build-ups. But the playmaker also guaranteed that the Danish fans can look forward to seeing their side in a different guise come Sunday.

Christian Eriksen of Denmark is tackled by Ngolo Kante of France

New style?

“I think the way we’ll play will change significantly in the knockout phase,” he said. “Against France we were really forced to defend very deep, and did not create so much up front even though we probably ended up having more chances than in any of the other fixtures we’ve played. In the next game I’m sure that we’ll attempt to push further up and create more.”

The Danes have a history of producing their best results when nobody fancies their chances, and with Croatia boasting a 100 per cent record in the group stage, the odds will certainly be stacked in favour of Luka Modric and his team-mates finally bringing that 18-game Danish unbeaten streak to an end. But the underdog role is one that will fit the Danes perfectly, and could finally free up some of that attacking potential which they showed to such good effect against Poland and the Republic of Ireland in the qualifying phase.

“We are realists, and we know that we don´t seem like the most fearsome bunch to go up against,” said Thomas Delaney, who forged a formidable partnership in defensive midfield with Andreas Christensen. “But I think teams respect us, and I am sure people can see that we´re a tough team to beat. We´re not going to lose 5-0 by trying to play tiki-taka football. But people shouldn’t get used to seeing us play like we did against France. It’s seldom that we play like this, and the game against Croatia will be a very different spectacle.”